This was an odd year for real estate, particularly at the very top of the market. Certain regions saw record-breaking listings, but sparse sales. Others saw brisk business for the merely wealthy – and stagnant sales at levels only the super-rich can afford.
There was a backlash against mega-mansions but not mega-prices. It was a year in which billions changed hands, but very few records were set.
The following are some of this year’s most interesting sales. Some represent the tops in their respective regions, others are emblematic of industry-wide trends, and one or two have a famous name attached.
1. The Girasol Estate in St. Barth’s, about US$67 million
What: A seven-acre estate on the Caribbean island of St. Barth’s with 175 yards of beachfront and two separate villas.
Why: The sale, one of the biggest in the Caribbean this year, happened after Hurricane Irma devastated the surrounding islands. It’s proof that the real estate industry in paradise is still booming, and it comes as a major relief to a lot of nervous second-home owners.
Sold by: Sibarth Real Estate, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate
2. A triplex penthouse in Monte Carlo, Monaco, US$61 million
What: A three-storey penthouse spread out over more than 5,000 square feet, the apartment is at the sweet spot in the centre of Monte Carlo: the Golden Square. There are six bedrooms, each with an en-suite bath, and expansive views of the Mediterranean.
Why: Monaco, a safe haven for the international super-rich and their money, was never exactly a bargain basement. Despite a few super-high profile US$100 million-plus listings in the tiny municipality, this sale ranks near the top.
Sold by: Hammer Draff Great Properties, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate
3. The Elaine Estate, Sydney, in excess of A$70 million (US$54 million)
What: A 154-year-old waterfront mansion in the Point Piper suburb of Sydney had remained in the same family for more than 126 years. It sold to an Australian tech billionaire in his thirties who will now get to enjoy the house’s grass tennis court, swimming pool, and scant 1.72 acres with his young family.
Why: It’s an Australian national sales record.
Sold by: Ken Jacobs, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate
4. A penthouse at 15 Central Park West, New York, US$50.55 million
What: A four-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bathroom apartment that encompasses 5,300 square feet on the Robert A.M. Stern building’s 40th floor. There’s a library, a formal dining room, and – as you’d expect from an apartment at this height, scale, and price – sweeping views of the city and Central Park.
Why: Initially listed for US$59 million, this apartment, at one of New York’s highest sales of 2017, is a handy reminder that list prices at this level often exceed the apartment’s actual price and that – even in the face of a glut of similarly priced apartments in the city – 15 Central Park West continues to be an alluring property.
Sold by: Douglas Elliman Real Estate
5. A Beverly Hills Estate, Los Angeles, US$45 million
What: A six-bedroom, 13,860 sq ft house with an infinity pool. It comes with a 22-person screening room and views of downtown Los Angeles, along with six bedrooms and seven baths. For the sale, the house was fully staged, replete with art by Andy Warhol, and was marketed with a slick video set to club music.
Why: The house is emblematic of a trend in LA real estate wherein agents market a house to an extraordinary degree, fully staging it to (appear to) be move-in ready. We’ve seen this elsewhere in the city’s comparably high-end listings. Given the success of these efforts, the trend shows no sign of dying down.
Sold by: Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate
6. Billionaire’s row mansion, San Francisco, over US$35 million
What: A seven-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bath house in the swanky Pacific Heights neighbourhood of San Francisco. The 11,400 sq ft house is newly constructed and has not one but two wine rooms, along with an lift.
Why: It’s the highest-priced residential sale in San Francisco, ever.
Sold by: Thomas Biss of Sotheby’s International Real Estate
7. A ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, California, US$34.25 million
What: Rancho Sanja Cota covers more than 1,220 acres north of Santa Barbara. The inland property is primarily agricultural, but because it is located near some of the most sought-after high-end real estate in California, represented a tantalising opportunity for a wealthy buyer to turn it into a luxe weekend equestrian estate.
Why: It’s the highest-priced sale in Santa Barbara County since 2008.
8. A beachfront property in the Hamptons, US$31 million
What: Set on Gin Lane in Southampton, on the southern tip of New York’s Long Island, this beachfront house measures a comparatively tiny 2,500 square feet but sits on 2.64 of the most sought-after acres on the planet. There’s a pool, tennis court, and lovely gazebo, as well as 199 feet of ocean frontage.
Why: It was the highest-priced sale in the Hamptons this year.
9. Sabine Farm, Greenwich, Connecticut, US$25 million
What: Less a farm and more a mansion, the 12,238 sq ft fieldstone house is set on 19.48 acres. Reportedly sold by the billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, the house comes with eight bedrooms, along with a guest cottage that contains an additional three. A pool on the property is complemented by acres of landscaped gardens.
Why: It’s Greenwich, Connecticut’s most expensive sale this year, but had the seller had his way, it would have sold for a whole lot more. (List price was US$31.5 million.) In that sense, the sale may highlight subdued market conditions in the ritzy suburb.
Sold by: Leslie McElwreath of Sotheby’s International Realty
10. Celine Dion’s Jupiter Island, Florida, US$28 Million
What: This oceanfront compound with 13 bedrooms, three pools, and a water slide has a main house that comprises 10,000 square feet, a guest house, a tennis house, a beach house, and a pool house.
Why: It was the highest-priced sale on Florida’s Jupiter Island in 2017. Also, it was owned by Celine Dion.
Sold by: Cristina Condon and Todd Peter of Sotheby’s International Realty